Why It Matters: Weathering and Soil Formation

Explain the formation of soils, different weathering processes and erosion.


When most people think about the resources we use, most of them will immediately think about water and air and fossil fuels. However, one resource that is absolutely vital to our existence (and other species as well) is soil. In this section, we will see how soil is formed, we will see why all soils are not the same, and we will see what the soil looks like in different biomes.

You may recall from the rock cycle that  soil is formed from the weathering of rocks, but this is just one piece of what goes into soil formation. If we stop and think about soil for just a minute, we can come up with an impressive resume of what soil does:

  1. The most obvious area where soil is important is in agriculture and growing food to feed our population. But on a more personal level, do you like to garden? Do you grow your own vegetables? Imagine what would happen without this vital resource.
  2. Soils are also an important part of the water cycle. They help regulate the flow and quality of water. What would happen without soil in areas that get a lot of rainfall?
  3. Did you know there are more organisms in just 1 tablespoon of soil than there are people on the planet? The soil is home to billions of different species. Where would these species be without soil?

These are just a few examples of why soil is essential as a resource. So, let’s see how soil forms and why there are so many different types of soil.

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe types and processes of weathering and erosion.
  • Describe and compare typical soil profiles and basic soil types.
  • Discuss the importance of soil conservation.


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